Alaska Legislature begins 2023 session

Lawmakers are in Juneau for the start of the 2023 legislative session.
Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 6:10 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Tuesday, January 17, marked the first day of Alaska’s new legislature, and lawmakers from around the state gathered in Juneau for the new session.

More than 80 bills had already been pre-filed, ranging from repealing ranked-choice voting to a ban on chokeholds.

The State Senate formed a sweeping majority in November, composed of all but 3 of the body’s members. It is uncertain whether a House majority could be formed on the first day.

The senate majority held a press conference on Tuesday and identified K-12 education, health care, and fuel costs as priority issues.

Republican Senator Cathy Giessel from Anchorage said, “As those kids came back to school this fall, relating to each other was something they had to relearn, but you know, another big thing is we’ve got to have teachers in the classroom, and so many of our schools started without adequate faculty, adequate teachers present in the schools, so we’ve got to find a way to solve that. We need to make sure that we can grow our own. Local teachers know the culture of an area.”

By the end of their session today, the State House had not organized a majority, instead unanimously electing Josiah Patkotak from Utqiagvik as temporary speaker.

In the last two legislative sessions, the House hasn’t been able to organize until February.